- Bay County
- Dane Eagle
- Department of Economic Opportunity
- Donald Trump
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
- Florida Panhandle
- Hazard Mitigation Program
- Hurricane Michael
- Jimmy Patronis
- Kevin Guthrie
- Mexico Beach
- Mick Mulvaney
- Northwest Florida
- Panama City
- Rebuild Florida
- Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program
- Ron DeSantis
As Northwest Florida approaches the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael’s landfall in Mexico Beach, Gov. Ron DeSantis recommitted to helping the Panhandle recover from the storm.
Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach on Oct. 10, 2018, as a category 5 hurricane, causing an estimated $25 billion in damage and killing dozens.
Speaking in Southport on Friday, DeSantis announced more than $3.1 million in awards for 12 projects in the Panhandle through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program. In total, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has allocated $417 million in mitigation funds for Hurricane Michael.
Significant and continued investments in communities hit by hurricanes is important, DeSantis said, pointing to the area around Homestead still recovering from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“When you have a storm of that magnitude, this is not something that can be dealt with in days, weeks or months,” he added. “This is a long term project.”
DeSantis regaled onlookers in Southport with the story of how he secured millions in hurricane relief from then-President Donald Trump in 2019 shortly after taking office, a story that garnered laughs from those in attendance.
After Trump verbally OK’d sending money to Florida, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney pulled the Governor aside and told him not to announce the approval, DeSantis said, because they hadn’t discussed the dollar amount, which could be in the hundreds of thousands. After waiting 24 hours at Mulvaney’s request to give the President the chance to rescind the aid, the Governor said he decided to go forward with the announcement.
“We had not heard from Mick, so I got on the plane, we went and we announced it,” DeSantis said. “I had almost everybody, every leader in Bay County, up. Everyone was excited. Everyone knew it was a big deal. President, incidentally, was very happy. Mick was not as happy. But, you know, I gave you the 24. I mean, what am I supposed to do?”
Granting millions to one state could set the precedent for providing massive relief following other disasters, like California wildfires, the Governor relayed.
“I think the President understood. He understood the area, he loved the people here and I’d like to think that I was persuasive,” DeSantis said.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City native, praised the Governor for prioritizing Michael recovery since his first day in office. He also gave nods to Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Dane Eagle.
“It’s hard to believe it’s three years, and we still drive around town and we still see the elements of what happened here three years ago,” Patronis said. “But you haven’t forgot about us. You continue to remind people like Kevin Guthrie and Dane Eagle that Northwest Florida needs help, and the men and women of this part of this state are forever in your debt.”
Panama City Rep. Jay Trumbull recalled that when his community struggled to find local funds to rebuild after the storm, the DeSantis administration pulled through.
Trumbull, a Republican, now leads House budget discussions.
“Whatever Jay cooks up in the budget, as long as he’s nice to me, I’ll approve it for Northwest Florida,” DeSantis said.